Transcribed by Mary Ann Kaylor
MILLER, WILLIAM GIBSON, for many years identified with the agricultural interests of Sangamon County, Ill., is also well known in banking circles and public life, and is a revered and honored veteran of the Civil War. Mr. Miller was born in Chatham Township, Sangamon County, February 3, 1838, a son of Jacob and Lucina (Potz) Miller.
Jacob Miller was born in Kentucky, married in that State, and came to Illinois in 1824, locating in what is now Chatham Township. At the outbreak of the Black Hawk War, he enlisted to defend the homes of the white settlers against the ravages of the Indians and did valiant service. After the war he returned to his home, where he resumed farming and stockraising and became one of the leading men of his community. Jacob Miller had left his native State on account of slavery, and there is no doubt that he would have enlisted for service in the Union army during the Civil War had not his age prevented. He always taught his sons to abhor even the thought of slavery, and instilled in them the love of country that they always evidenced in their after lives. Mr. Miller was a stanch Whig in early days and later became a personal friend of Abraham Lincoln, in whose office he became acquainted with the Great Martyr. Mr. Miller passed to his final rest July 27, 1862, his wife following him to the grave November 2, 1877, both dying in the faith of the Hard Shell Baptist Church. They were the parents of thirteen children, as follows: three who died in infancy; William Gibson; James F., living with his son near Springfield; Francis Marion, farming in Curran Township Eliza, who married John Greenwood, both being now deceased; Emily, the second wife of John Greenwood, deceased; Eunica, who married David E. McGinnis; Jasper D.; Robert; Permelia; and Sarah, who married William Scott, both being deceased.
William Gibson Miller was reared on the farm in Chatham Township and attended the subscription school of his time, entering upon his duties on the home farm as soon as he was tall enough to reach the plow handles. He remained on the home farm until 1858, when he was married to Nancy Baker, who was born in Loami Township, the daughter of Thomas and Nancy (Robertson) Baker, pioneer farming people of Sangamon County who are now deceased. After his marriage, Mr. Miller located in Loami Township, where he took possession of sixty-three acres of prairie land. Mr. Miller had been raised in the timber and, as the year 1859 was a very wet one and his crops failed, he became discouraged and finally returned to the place of his birth to take charge of the home farm of his father, who was becoming old and feeble. Here he remained until August 9, 1862, when the patriotic speeches, the waving of the flag and the rattle of drums brought vividly before him all of the teachings of his father, and so enthused him that he offered his services and was accepted as a member of Company I, Seventy-third Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, being mustered in at Camp Butler. In a few days the regiment was ordered to the front, direct to Louisville, Ky., and thence to Covington. On October 8, 1862, the regiment participated in the battle of Perryville; on December 21, came the battle of Stone River; on September 19 and 20, 1863, Chickamauga; Missionary Ridge November 24 and 25, and Rocky Face May 9, 1864. Between all these great struggles there had been battles of minor importance, skirmishes and marches, in which Mr. Miller had served faithfully with his comrades, and at Chickamauga he received a wound in the head. He declined admission to the hospital after his wound, but at Missionary Ridge he received a severe wound in the left forearm and was sent to the hospital at Nashville, Tenn., where he remained until July 22, 1864. He rejoined his regiment the night before Sherman swung around Atlanta, and was just too late for that battle, but participated in the battle of Spring Hill, on November 29th; Franklin November 20th, and Nashville, December 15th and 16th. Mr. Miller served with one of the bravest and hardest fighting regiments that was ever gotten together during the war. Always ready and eager for service, the Seventy-third was time and again sent into some of the most desperate conflicts of the Civil War, at Chickamauga alone losing 147 men. Company I, having gone into the battle with a complement of seventy-three men, was reduced to twenty-seven, and only five of these were able to answer roll call. Mr. Miller had contracted rheumatism during his long and arduous service, and he also had sustained a harder blow than any received in his numerous battles, when, at Mammoth Cave, Ky., October 16, 1862, he received word of the death of his young wife whom he had left at home. It was, therefore, somewhat as a broken man that he was discharged at Camp Butler in 1865, and went to see his motherless children who were being cared for by his sister Sarah. He remained in the old home until 1866, when on June 28th of that year he was married to Sarah A. Hall, who was born in Loami Township, January 9, 1845, a daughter of Thompson and Eveline (Jacobs) Hall, one of the old and honored families of Sangamon County. Mr. and Mrs. Miller settled on a farm in this township, but in about 1877 moved to his parents' home on Section 22, Loami Township, where he took up eighty acres on which there had been no improvements made. He built a three room house, to which he has since added, now having one of the nicest homes in his part of the township, and cultivating an excellent farm of 202 acres.
Mr. Miller can justly be considered one of Sangamon's energetic, enterprising, public-spirited citizens, and has always given his support to movements of an educational or religious character, as well as those which tend to the advancement of agricultural and commercial interests. He is vice-president of and a stock holder in the Farmers State Bank of Loami, one of the strong financial institutions of this section. In his political relations he is a Republican, but has never south public preferment, although always working along the lines of good government. He and Mrs. Miller have always held membership in the Methodist Episcopal Church.
The children born to Mr. Miller and his first wife were: Henry E., conducting a large ranch near Denver, Colo.; and Mary, who became the wife of Louis Jarrett, but died May 30, 1888, her husband now being a resident of Loami Township. To William G. and Sarah A. (Hall) Miller, the following children have been born: Minnie May, born March 8, 1867, died April 6, 1867; William Madison, born July 29, 1871, died in August, 1873; Oscar, born August 2, 1873, married Olive Campbell, and is now conducting a farm near Cheadle, Canada; Lucy, born August 13, 1875, married Melvin Dodd, a farmer of Loami Township; twins, who died in infancy; Edna, born November 19, 1882, married Cecil Keplinger, a farmer on a part of the old homestead; Nellie, born March 30, 1886, married Fletcher Blackburn, a farmer near Jacksonville, Morgan County, Ill.